I am someone who does not enjoy having my photo taken. At all. When I look at photos of myself I feel the same way native Americans used to, that the process somehow steals my soul.
You see photos do not portray how I see myself, which is as much more than my mere exterior. They don’t show my heart, my soul, my gratitude or my warmth. Just the skin I’m in.
But over the years, I have been forced to have my photo taken for my job or to promote a book or story I’ve written. Out of many rolls of film taken, I usually only like one or two frames and they are usually outtakes when I have not been posing, showing me laughing or smiling at someone out if view. In other words, where I am not looking like a startled fawn in the headlights of a ute full of pissed up rednecks with shotguns.
But even with such judicial editing, the same message comes from the photographer and/or art director after selection, “Great. We’ll get to work on it.” This “work” entails the photo being airbrushed and photoshopped in to a caricature of myself; one with smooth skin, tamed hair, no crows feet and, should the shot be full length, streamlined arms and thighs that don’t rub together.
Editors claim they do this to sell magazines. They believe that by making someone appear as attractive as is humanly and technically possible, they create an image that is aspirational, something they claim their readers want.
Now, I have been one of these editors spouting such bull and remain ashamed to have done so to this day. Because what I was really doing spinning this line was making women feel inferior, urging them to aspire to the unachievable. In other words, selling my sisters down the river.